Walthamstow Wetlands by Stephen Ayers

Investigating the complexities of urban conservation

Cara Clancy

Cara is undertaking a three year research project at Walthamstow Wetlands

‘Life in the urban wilds’ is a three year research project that combines academic research with creative ‘multispecies’ field investigations. It is being led by Cara Clancy of Plymouth University and aims to better understand conservation in urban environments – how and why certain decisions are made and then experienced by people and wildlife.

Urban environments are complex, hybrid places and conservation can play an important role in shaping relations between humans and the non-human community (plants and animals). Here Cara explains her project and invites visitors to the Wetlands to get in touch with their own thoughts and stories. 

Walthamstow Wetlands is an example of a space where both cultural and ecological factors are at play. Not only are the reservoirs home to a diverse array of birds and other species, they play a critical role in supplying Londoners with clean, safe drinking water. They are also an important recreational site for anglers, who have been fishing here since before the Second World War.

The multifunctional nature of Walthamstow Wetlands makes it a fascinating place for undertaking conservation and balancing different needs. The research hopes to draw insights from the case of Walthamstow Wetlands (as well a second study site on the Tamar Estuary in Plymouth) to shed light on the complexities of urban conservation and how people and wildlife might relate to each other in new and different ways in urban contexts.

Urban environments represent some of the most altered landscapes on the planet (1) and yet the modern city is filled with wild animal inhabitants, many of whom now find better access to food and shelter here than in the rural countryside. In recent years, urban biodiversity has started to be accorded the kind of conservation significance once reserved for rural and sparsely populated regions. Brownfield sites for instance have been widely cited as having an important role for urban wildlife – in fact, two of the UK’s top sites for wildlife diversity are brownfield lands, supporting some of Britain’s most scarce and threatened species (2).

Peregrine falcon -by Stephen AyersFor some animals, artificial structures can become part of their ‘natural’ habitat (see for example Walthamstow Wetland’s peregrine falcons enjoying the heights of the electricity pylons). All this reflects the fluid geography of wildlife in urban areas.

Using creative multispecies techniques, this research hopes to elucidate what ‘home’ and ‘belonging’ might mean for the inhabitants of Walthamstow Wetlands, as well as the many people who have formed attachments to the place over the years. These attachments sit alongside a very real need to maintain the reservoirs for the many thousands of Londoners who depend on them for their drinking water (the reservoirs were initially created in response to the cholera outbreaks of the late 1800s that killed thousands). It is this interplay that makes urban conservation so interesting, albeit challenging.

In wandering around the wetlands, and volunteering with London Wildlife Trust, I have slowly become more familiar with the features and creatures that make this site what it is. But I am still learning. I invite anyone who wants to take part in the research to get in touch, whether you have a story to share, an experience to recount, or you’re simply curious! The research aims to expand understandings of urban wilds in ways that can helpfully inform conservation policy and practice going forward.

Do you have any views or stories you’d like to share? You can contact Cara by email at cara.clancy@plymouth.ac.uk. Cara is also looking for art practitioners and other collaborators to run some participatory listening exercises and sound-mapping workshops in spring and summer 2017. Please feel free to get in touch.

Twitter @caraclancy

Images of Walthamstow Wetlands and peregrine falcon by Stephen Ayers.

References

(1) Hobbs et al. (2013) ‘Novel Ecosystems: Intervening in the new ecological world order’; Pickett et al. (2016) ‘Evolution and future of urban ecological science: Ecology in, of and for the city’.

(2) Wildlife and Countryside Link, June 2015

Walthamstow Weltands by Rachel Smith

Walthamstow Wetlands Newsletter 3 / December 2016

As the end of the year is quickly approaching it is a chance to reflect on some of our highlights of 2016. It is hard to believe that in less than a year the reservoirs will be transformed into Walthamstow Wetlands and we will be fully open to the public.

The community engagement team have been doing a great job showing visitors around the Wetlands with our on-going guided tours. Over the past three months we have also been focusing on outreach with local community groups and schools. Our feedback suggests that excitement about the project is really growing. We have also been out and about publicising Walthamstow Wetlands within the local community. You may have spoken to us at Countryside Live or the Waltham Forest Community Hub table top sale. We will be at the Wood Street First Festive Fayre on December 10th 2016 if you would like to come and chat with us.

On site work is continuing at pace on the Engine House. Our contractors Rooff have now completed the upper roof and the lower roof alterations are progressing well. The steelwork for the new mezzanine floor in the triple engine room is about to be installed.

Work has now also started on the Grade II listed Coppermill building. The unsafe, old access bridge will be replaced with a new one to enable visitors to access the Coppermill and a new viewing gallery where they can freely enjoy fantastic views over the Wetlands and surrounding cityscape.

The main car park on Forest Road is now under reconstruction and the steel foundations for the boardwalk along the bank of the River Lea are now in position. This will form the main access route to the Wetlands and the Engine House visitor centre and café.

It just remains for me to wish you an enjoyable winter break and a fantastic 2017. We are certainly really looking forward to the coming year and a fantastic new nature reserve and heritage centre in Walthamstow! Upcoming events

Read more, including:

  • Stakeholder’s spot
  • Conservation volunteering at Walthamstow Wetlands: winter 2016 and beyond
  • Volunteering at Walthamstow Wetlands
  • Wildlife corner: northern shoveler and gadwall
  • Wildlife corner: redwing and fieldfare

Read more

Summer update from the Walthamstow Wetlands community engagement team

We have had a really exciting summer here at Walthamstow Wetlands as we continue to work towards our opening in autumn 2017. We have had a huge amount of interest in volunteering and as a result our community engagement team has been able to spread the word about the redevelopment of the reservoirs into Walthamstow Wetlands far and wide!  A huge thanks to all of our wonderful volunteers who have supported this project with such enthusiasm and expertise.

You may have caught up with us at events such as Tottenham Ploughman Riverfest or Lea Valley Countryside Live and spoken with our team or made apple bird feeders with us!

You may also have attended one of our free Sunday morning guided tours, giving visitors special access to the site whilst it is being transformed or visited the Wetlands as part of a community group tour. Feedback from the tours suggests that our visitors are as excited as we are about this project and are looking forward to the new nature reserve opening. Many have never visited the site before, despite been local residents. We have really enjoyed sharing your delight in finding out that this hidden gem is on your doorstep!

As part of Open House London in September we offered two special tours alongside William Mann from prize-winning architects Witherford, Watson & Mann, who are working with LB Waltham Forest, Thames Water and London Wildlife Trust to restore the historic Marine Engine House (as a new visitor centre) and the Coppermill. Visitors had a rare opportunity to learn how the architects were redeveloping the buildings for modern usage whilst retaining the essence of their Victorian industrial architecture.

Work is now well underway transforming the 1894 Marine Engine House into a visitor centre comprising a café and outdoor dining terrace, alongside an educational venue and exhibition space.

The building’s iconic chimney, which was taken down in the 1950’s, will be reinstated as a tall swift tower, providing valuable nesting spots for this declining species. We’ll also be incorporating a special bat roost into the design.

Over at the Grade II listed Coppermill building work has recently started on the creation of a viewing platform with that will give stunning views over the reservoirs and the surrounding cityscape. Our building contractors Rooff have also laid the framework for a boardwalk which will follow the river from the main entrance at Ferry Lane to the new visitor centre. It is all really starting to take shape now. Roll on September 2017!

Rachel Smith, Community engagement officer / London Wildlife Trust

Walthamstow Weltands by Rachel Smith

Walthamstow Wetlands Newsletter 2 / December 2016

It has been a really busy summer here at Walthamstow Wetlands! The planting of the new reedbeds by contractors Salix was completed in May and the beds are establishing well. They will provide shallow feeding areas for our herons as well as breeding habitats for smaller birds such as willow and Cetty warblers, bearded tits and reed buntings. We hope that this ideal habitat will encourage bitterns back to breed on the site.

Those of you who have visited the site recently will notice the Engine House has been covered in scaffolding since July, and the contractors Rooff are progressing well with the transformation of the old industrial building into a visitor and education centre along with a café. As part of this redevelopment the iconic chimney will be rebuilt as a swift tower with multiple nest boxes for migratory swifts and with space inside for roosting bats. Work has also started on the main entrance, boardwalk and carpark. To keep up to date with what is happening on the site follow us on Twitter, Facebook or check out our blog.

Our community engagement volunteers have also been busy leading free monthly public walks in addition to a whole programme of community group tours and specialist bird, bat and heritage walks. Visit the events page of our website to book your place on a guided tour. If you are involved in a local community organisation and you would like to organise a free tour of Walthamstow Wetlands for your group, or you would like us to come and make a presentation to your group, please contact me at walthamstow@wildlondon.org.uk.

The new educational year is now well underway, and we would love to come to talk to schools about the educational opportunities that Walthamstow Wetlands will offer when it opens in 2017. Contact me at walthamstow@wildlondon.org.uk to arrange a date for a visit.

In this newsletter we have included a couple of features on our current volunteers. If you are inspired and would like to be part of our community engagement team please get in touch.

Finally, I would like to say a huge thank you to the team of volunteers who have worked so hard on behalf of the project throughout the summer.

Rachel Smith, Walthamstow Weltands Community Enagagement Officer

Read more, including:

  • Upcoming events
  • Water for Wildlife project: surveying and conservation volunteering opportunities
  • Photographing dragonflies and damselflies
  • From across the pond: researching the development of Walthamstow Wetlands
  • Volunteering at Walthamstow Wetlands
  • Wildlife corner: tufted duck
  • Exhibition review: Water and life: the story of Walthamstow Wetlands

Read more

Reedbeds on Reservoir 3 at Walthamstow Wetlands 18th August 2016 - Photo by Stephen Ayers

The new reedbeds are growing fast and the herons and little egrets are loving them already!

Purple Loosestrife in the reedbeds in Reservoir 3 at Walthamstow Wetlands - 18th August 2016 - Photo by Stephen Ayers

Purple Loosestrife in the reedbeds in Reservoir 3 – 18th August 2016 – Photo by Stephen Ayers

The new reedbeds were planted at Walthamstow Wetlands by contractors Salix in May 2016. Salix began work at Walthamstow in October 2015 by bucket dredging and pump dredging silt from the bottom of Reservoirs 2 and 3 to increase the depth of the reservoirs and improve the water quality. The silt was moved into ‘silt retention systems’ to build the banks of mud that the reedbeds would be planted into.

A range of native wetland and wildflower plant species, were planted alongside the common reeds (phragmites), to increase the biodiversity of the reedbeds. This mix of plants were first grown in coir rolls and coir matting, made in Sri Lanka from recycled coconut husks, at the Salix nursery in Norfolk and then transported to Walthamstow to be planted.

Temporary netting fences which have pieces of shiny silver tape attached to them currently protect the newly planted reedbeds from being eaten by geese and other birds. These nets and fences will be removed once the reedbeds have grown beyond their current stage.

The plants will improve the quality of the water for fish, by absorbing nutrients from the water and the new reedbeds will massively increase the amount of habitats at Walthamstow Wetlands for a diverse variety of wildlife. They will protect fish eggs and provide refuge for fish fry from the diving cormorants and other predators. 

Purple Loosestrife in the reedbeds on Reservoir 3 - 18th August 2016 - Photo by Stephen Ayers

Purple Loosestrife in the reedbeds on Reservoir 3 – 18th August 2016 – Photo by Stephen Ayers

Amphibians, small mammals and invertebrates, will also live in these habitats, so the reedbeds will favour the herons, little egrets and bittern and other wading birds and will help them to compete for food with the cormorants who are highly effective predators. The herons and little egrets immediately took to the reedbeds and can be seen wading in them poised to pounce in their new fertile hunting grounds. The reedbeds will also attract small birds such as reed warblers, sedge warblers, reed bunting and bearded tits. 

by Stephen Ayers – Lead Community Engagement Volunteer for London Wildlife Trust at Walthamstow Wetlands

Twitter: Wetlands Steve

Facebook: Wetlands Steve

My Personal Blog

 

Spring Migrant and Resident Birds Tour of the Northern Reservoirs – 17th April 2016

On Sunday 17th April 2016, London Wildlife Trust’s bird specialist Peter Beckenham, lead a two hour guided tour of the northern reservoirs of Walthamstow Wetlands.

A group of visitors, who had booked their places on the tour via our events page, joined London Wildlife Trust’s Community Engagement Officer Rachel Smith at one of the key sites for bird watching in the capital, supported by her team of enthusiastic and knowledgeable community engagement volunteers.  They were mostly local residents but there were also some visitors from further afield, including some very experienced bird watchers who shared their knowledge, their scopes and their bird spotting skills with the whole group.

Peter Beckenham is an experienced teacher having previously taught bird watching courses at the City Lit Adult Education College in London. He clearly greatly enjoys watching birds and conveyed his enjoyment throughout the tour . He taught us with great care, about the behaviour and characteristics of not only the Spring migrants and the more spectacular birds but also about the more common and the resident birds that can be seen all year round at Walthamstow Wetlands.

Local resident Caro McAdam said of the tour: “Pete was patient and knowledgeable and we saw some amazing birds. I wouldn’t even have noticed most of them if he hadn’t been there!”

During the tour we saw a range of 43 different species but it was especially fascinating to see the Spring migratory birds such as the Common Terns perched on railings at High Maynard Reservoir, Common Sandpipers next to Lockwood Reservoir and Sand Martins in the air above the north end of Lockwood,  on a gloriously sunny and fresh Spring day.

We also saw 3 different raptors, a common buzzard over Low Maynard, a sparrow hawk over the north end of High Maynard and a peregrine falcon over the Coppermill Stream / The Paddocks. They flew high in the air and might have gone unnoticed by many of us, if we had not been accompanied by experienced bird watchers who kept watching the sky, as well as looking at the many birds in the trees and reservoirs below. Once they had been spotted, the whole group was able to follow their flight together with binoculars, as our guide Peter told us all about the bird.

As well as the birds, we enjoyed the Spring blossom of the flowers and trees at Walthamstow Wetlands too and our guide Peter was also able to identify the wild flowers that we saw, such as Red Dead-Nettles. Another sign of the season, was a family of greylag geese with five fluffy green and yellow young goslings, that waddled among the grass on the side of the Lockwood Reservoir, in perfect position for everyone to photograph and admire from the path.

We were delighted to be joined on the tour by Eamonn Lawlor, the South Ranger for the Lea Valley Park Authority, who commented: “I enjoyed the tour greatly, it was well paced and certainly helped by the weather. I could see the enthusiasm in people’s faces. I think everyone recognises there is something special happening, even those who may not know much about birds. I have to admit, that every time I drive past the reservoirs and look out of my window to see the birds on the islands, I turn into one of those overexcited kids who imagines jumping the fence, if only to get a single glimpse of what’s happening on the other side. To have finally had the opportunity to stand on the other side of that fence and to explore the reservoirs with expert birders and members of the London Wildlife Trust, was an experience I won’t forget. So much good is happening across Walthamstow’s wetlands right now, and to be part of it and to see it gradually coming together is a joy and a privilege. London should be proud of its wetlands! As we walked south towards the marshes I could see more clearly how the two areas would link up and the potential for future collaboration between the Lee Valley Park Rangers at Walthamstow Marshes and London Wildlife Trust at Walthamstow Reservoirs (‘Wetlands’).”

Many new visitors don’t know yet that it is possible to walk around the northern side of Forest Road, which comprises about 40% of Walthamstow Wetlands, as well as the southern reservoirs. Visitors are put off from crossing the busy road from the main entrance on the south side, but when Walthamstow Wetlands opens in 2017, the plans for the improvement of Forest Road/Ferry Lane will have been implemented and a staggered crossing will connect the two sides of the Wetlands and enable pedestrians and cyclists to cross Forest Road easily and safely.

It is well worth visiting the northern side of Walthamstow Wetlands, which comprises High Maynard, Low Maynard and Lockwood reservoirs, the  Coppermill Stream and the flood relief channel. There are many features there that are totally different than anywhere else at Walthamstow Wetlands. Some of the best places to watch birds are on the northern side, for instance, Lockwood Reservoir is a favourite place for bird watchers, due to its height and scale which provides a vast uninterrupted field of vision. Lockwood is also a favourite place for many birds as it is the largest of the reservoirs and due to its expansive size the birds are attracted because they feel safer landing there.

Peter took an accessible and inclusive approach, as he heard the bird calls and pointed them out to us, or spotted and then identified and taught us about, the most interesting aspects of all the birds that we encountered on the tour. Peter was also keen to demystify bird watching and encourage novices to learn more about birds for example about the calls of birds in their gardens at home as a starting point.

It is very enjoyable to attend these special bird tours and it definitely enriches your future visits to Walthamstow Wetlands as you gain such an understanding of the birds and become able to identify them from their calls and by sight. I’m looking forward to the next Specialist Bird Tour looking at the Summer Migrants on 19th June, which will be lead by eminent local bird watcher Peter Lambert. I heartily recommend that you book your place now!

Many thanks to Josh Davis and Eamonn Lawlor for contributing to this blog post. 

Written by Stephen Ayers

Go to my blog www.walthamstowetlandsteve.wordpress.com to see more of my videos of the wildlife and events at Walthamstow Wetlands,

Or see my Twitter profile: Wetlands Steve

 

Grey heron Winter Plumage - Photo Stephen Ayers 24th Feb 16

Walthamstow Wetlands Newsletter – Issue 1: March 2016

Welcome to the Walthamstow Wetlands Newsletter!

Hello, and a warm welcome to the first edition of our newsletter, I’m Rachel, the Community Engagement Officer for Walthamstow Wetlands.

I am really pleased to announce that work is now starting on the project’s major building works. The contractors Rooff are currently working on the main Forest Road entrance, the boardwalk and the car park area. In the next few weeks they will start transforming the Engine House into a fantastic visitor centre and café.

Keep checking our events page for future guided tours of the site. Now that the weather is improving we will be starting a programme of specialist walks with guides who are experts in their field. This will include local history and heritage, wetland wildfowl and more of the bat walks that were so popular last year.

If you are involved in a local community organisation or school and would like a tour of the site, or you would like to subscribe to our mailing list, please contact me at walthamstow@wildlondon.org.uk.

Finally, I would like to take this opportunity to say a huge thank you to the community engagement team of volunteers who have worked so hard on behalf of the project and have produced this newsletter. I really hope you enjoy it!

Heron nests on the island of Reservoir 2

Heron nests on the island of Reservoir 2.  Photo: © Stephen Ayers

Grey herons nesting at Walthamstow Wetlands 

by Stephen Ayers

Many large and impressively constructed heron nests, currently fill the trees of the heronry islands on Reservoirs 1, 2 and 3.

At this time of year if you look with binoculars, you can see the fuzzy heads of the heron chicks bobbing above the nests below their parents legs. You may also see the herons breeding in the branches of the trees.

Once they have built their nest, they constantly check the structural integrity of each stick and take turns to fly down to collect new sticks to add to the nest.

Grey herons are one of the iconic birds of Walthamstow Wetlands. They can be seen throughout the year and because they are large and they stand, or perch in one place for a long time, visitors can have a good look at them. Herons can be seen on Reservoirs 1, 2 and 3, in the Coppermill Stream, on the island of East Warwick, at the southern end of Low Maynard and elsewhere around the Wetlands.

Although they can regularly be seen, their size, wingspan, long bills, elegant necks and in winter their elaborate plumage always makes them an awe-inspiring spectacle, especially when they flap those huge wings or glide around the reservoirs in swooping circuitous flights.

Grey heron in winter plumage. Photo: © Stephen Ayers

At present, the herons are resplendent in their winter plumage, which they will moult in the summer. They are somewhat reminiscent of their pterodactyl ancestors, with their vast wingspan, reptilian toes and the range of prehistoric sounds they make, from their constant clacking to rasping croaks or guttural wheezing.

The islands at Walthamstow Wetlands, support a regionally important breeding colony of herons who are said to have moved to Walthamstow from Wanstead Park in the 1930s.

This 1951 amateur film entitled ‘Herons on Walthamstow Reservoir’ includes footage of heron chicks in the nest. 

by Stephen Ayers

My videos of wildlife and events at Walthamstow Wetlands: www.walthamstowetlandsteve.wordpress.com

My Twitter: Wetlands Steve @Walthamsteve.

Volunteer Profile: Ella Rothero – Community Engagement

Ella Rothero Community Engagement Volunteer at Walthamstow Wetlands

Ella Rothero – Community Engagement Volunteer at Walthamstow Wetlands

Up until about a year ago I was working as a sound editor for a post-production company based in Soho, editing dialogue for various television programmes and films.

Although I really enjoyed my time as a sound editor, I began to realise that I wanted to spend less time in dark windowless studios and more time outdoors engaging with the natural world and in the end decided to leave in order to pursue a career in nature conservation.

I am now doing an MSc in Conservation at University College London and wanted to complement my studies with some experience in the real world of nature conservation.

I have spent the last two years volunteering on various projects including community engagement on Hampstead Heath and becoming a learning volunteer at London Zoo, but there is something particularly exciting about the Walthamstow Wetlands project that made me really want to get involved: it is truly an urban wetland and one which Londoners rely on as much as the wildlife for a clean water supply. I find this aspect of the site really fascinating and this project offers an exciting chance to explore how we can better balance human needs with the needs of other animals.

My role as a community engagement volunteer has given me the chance to develop a variety of skills, ranging from learning to use programs such as Excel to helping to organise events such as a volunteer training day.

It has also been an amazing opportunity to become properly acquainted with Walthamstow Wetlands and I am especially enjoying helping out on the guided walks.

Ella Rothero leading a tour of Walthamstow Wetlands. Photo © Penny Dixie

I have also had the chance to meet so many passionate and knowledgeable people, especially other volunteers, who have taught me so much about the reservoirs and nature conservation more generally. One of my favourite moments has been seeing and hearing my first noctule bat during one of the bat walks last summer.

by Ella Rothero

Works in Progress: Construction of new reedbeds

Digger & Pontoon for bucket dredging on Reservoir 2 with silt retention system around the island. Photo: © Stephen Ayers

Digger & pontoon for bucket dredging on Reservoir 2 with silt retention system where the reedbeds are being created around the island. Photo: © Stephen Ayers

Since October, dredging and reedbed construction work has been taking place in Reservoirs 1, 2 and 3. This work is nearing its end now and is due to be completed by the end of May.

The bioengineering work being conducted by Salix River & Wetland Services Ltd. will create 2.4 hectares of new reedbeds. They will also dredge the silt from the bottom of reservoirs 1, 2 and 3, which had become shallow due to the build-up of silt over the years, using diggers on floating pontoons and pump-dredging.

The dredging will improve the depth and water quality of the reservoirs and the reedbeds will absorb nutrients and pollutants so that the water quality and the biodiversity in the water will improve the ecosystem and habitat of the fish in the reservoirs.

The reedbeds will also provide better protection for the fish eggs and refuge areas for juvenile fish which will stop them from being predated by the cormorants.

Silt retention systems (underwater fences), have been created using wooden stakes and special netting called nicospan and they can now be seen marking out where the new reedbeds will be. The silt is deposited into these fenced off areas in order to build the new reedbeds.

Silt retention system island - 24th Feb 16 - Salix Reedbeds - Stephen Ayers - 296KB

Silt retention system where the reedbeds are being constructed around the island of Reservoir 1. Photo: © Stephen Ayers

The reeds have been grown in Salix’s Norfolk nursery and they will be planted into the new reedbeds later this month. It will take 5 – 10 years before the new reedbeds are fully developed.

The new reedbeds will greatly increase the amount of wildlife habitats and the diversity of the species that will live in those habitats, such as amphibians, invertebrates, mammals and birds.

Birds like reed bunting, reed warbler, bearded tits and bittern will be attracted to visit and in due course, perhaps breed in the reedbeds.

The construction of the reedbeds will also create shallow waters, which will favour the wading herons and will help them to compete for food with the diving cormorants. For further details about the reedbed construction work, see this blog post.

by Stephen Ayers  

My videos of wildlife & events at Walthamstow Wetlands: www.walthamstowetlandsteve.wordpress.com

My Twitter: Wetlands Steve @Walthamsteve.

Community Engagement Officer Rachel Smith talks to new volunteers at the Volunteer Roadshow at Walthamstow Wetlands 12th March 2016

Volunteer Roadshow off to a flying start – 12th March 2016

The first event of London Wildlife Trust’s Walthamstow Wetlands Volunteer Roadshow, was held in the Angling Academy at Walthamstow Wetlands, on the afternoon of 12th March 2016.

The Roadshow got off to a flying start, attended by 30 prospective volunteers, most of whom at the end of the event, registered to become volunteers with London Wildlife Trust at Walthamstow Wetlands.

The event was a chance to hear from Community Engagement Officer Rachel Smith, about volunteering opportunities at the Walthamstow Wetlands project and to ask questions about volunteering and discuss the wetlands project.

Current volunteers Ella Rothero and ‘Wetlands Steve‘, made presentations about their volunteering roles, the training they have received and their experiences of being volunteers with London Wildlife Trust at Walthamstow Wetlands.

Volunteering Support Officer Karen Frances, also made a presentation about volunteering with London Wildlife Trust, the Trust’s culture of volunteering and volunteer policy.

The event was also an opportunity for everyone to participate in the Hydrocitizenship project and to help them to map Walthamstow Wetlands.

Prospective volunteers and people who are already involved with the Wetlands project, had the chance to meet each other, share their enthusiasm for Walthamstow Wetlands and network in a convivial atmosphere at a very enjoyable and friendly reception.


At the meeting, the prospective volunteers heard about the volunteering roles that are currently available at Walthamstow Wetlands, such as:

Community Engagement Volunteer Roles

  • Lead or support ‘walk and talk’ tours of Walthamstow Wetlands.
  • Support outreach into the local community and schools through presentations and stalls at events.
  • Write about the wetlands for this blog,
  • Share your photos and video of the wetlands on social media.

Administration Volunteer Role

  • Improve your IT and Admin skills through working on a variety of administrative tasks with us in the London Wildlife Trust office.

Prospective volunteers also heard about Conservation Volunteer roles that are not currently available, but will be starting soon, during the summer of 2016.

Conservation Volunteer Role

Conservation volunteering will be one of the biggest types of volunteering that will be available at Walthamstow Wetlands.

Conservation Volunteering will involve getting your hands dirty, getting good exercise and enjoying the fresh air and beautiful environment of Walthamstow Wetlands.

Conservation Volunteers will help to manage the ecosystem of Walthamstow Wetlands by for example, attending to the vegetation such as the reedbeds, sowing seeds, maintaining the shrubs such as gorse and removing litter from the site.


If you would like to volunteer at Walthamstow Wetlands, please email Rachel smith : walthamstow[at]wildlondon.org.uk


This blog post was written by Stephen Ayers – Lead Volunteer for London Wildlife Trust at Walthamstow Wetlands. To see my videos of wildlife at Walthamstow Wetlands, see my blog: walthamstowetlandsteve.wordpress.com . Or to read my tweets go to my Twitter Profile: Wetlands Steve

 

 

 

Inside the Marine Engine House, as renovation starts.

Renovation of the Marine Engine House, a Victorian / Edwardian landmark at Walthamstow Wetlands, by construction company Rooff, is scheduled to start this month (March 2016).

In the video above, you can see the faded grandeur of the Triple Engine Room’s interior, prior to its renovation. You can also see the dilapidated exterior of the once handsome Marine Engine House, which has been shuttered for many years.

The Marine Engine House, originally called Ferry Lane Pumping Station, was built in 1894 and extended in 1908. The building was designed by East London Waterworks Company‘s Architect, Mr. H. Tooley and Chief Engineer, Sir William Booth Bryan.

The renovation of the Marine Engine House, will open up this abandoned edifice for the public to enjoy. It will transform the Triple Engine Room, the Boiler House and the Turbine Room into a visitors centre, with exhibition spaces, education facilities and cafe.

The design of the Marine Engine House renovation, is by Witherford, Watson, Mann Architects and Kinnear Landscape Architects.

The Triple Engine Room featured in this video, will have a new mezzanine floor, that will provide an exhibition space. The mezzanine floor will also give access to a terrace balcony with views over Reservoir 1.

On the ground floor, under the mezzanine gallery, will be the cafe, and outside, beneath the balcony, will be a terrace seating area.

Here is a visualization by Forbes Massie, of what the Triple Engine Room will look like after renovation:

Forbes Massie visualization of the cafe in the Marine Engine House after renovation

Visualisation of the cafe on the ground floor of the Triple Engine Room in the Marine Engine House at Walthamstow Wetlands, after renovation.

Below, is a photograph of a model of the ground floor of the Triple Engine Room after renovation by Witherford Watson Mann / KLA Kinnear Landscape Architects .

Photograph of a model of the ground floor of the Triple Engine Room in the Marine Engine House at Walthamstow Wetlands

Photograph of a model of the ground floor of the Triple Engine Room in the Marine Engine House at Walthamstow Wetlands after renovation.

 

This blog post was written by Stephen Ayers for London Wildlife Trust – Community Engagement.

You can see Stephen’s videos of the wildlife, events and changes at Walthamstow Wetlands on his blog: www.walthamstowetlandsteve.wordpress.com .

Stay in touch with what is happening at Walthamstow Wetlands on a daily basis via the tweets of Wetlands Steve @Walthamsteve on Twitter.

 

Councillor Clare Coghill visits the reedbed construction work – 30th November 2015

Waltham Forest Councillor Clare Coghill, visits Walthamstow Wetlands, to see the early stages of bioengineering works, to create new wetland wildlife habitats underway.

Clare Coghill, a Councillor for High Street Ward, (which encompasses the southern half of the Walthamstow Wetlands site), was first elected a Councillor in 2010. Councillor Coghill, is now the Cabinet Lead for Economic Development and High Streets in Waltham Forest and as such, she is responsible for the flagship Walthamstow Wetlands portfolio.

London Wildlife Trust volunteers Stephen Ayers and Ella Rothero, had the opportunity to film Clare Coghill with London Wildlife Trust’s own Community Engagement Officer Rachel Smith, inspecting the initial stages of reedbed work on Reservoir 3.

After the photocall for local newspapers, Clare spared us some time to answer a few questions about her experience of working with London Wildlife Trust. She also spoke about the work on the reedbeds and generally about the regeneration of Walthamstow Wetlands.

Wildlife at Walthamstow Wetlands, has been on the decline in recent years but the 2.4 hectares of reedbeds will increase biodiversity, as it will create an enormous amount of new habitats for wildlife such as mammals, birds and invertebrates. However, the reedbeds will take time to grow and will not be fully established for 5-10 years.

Birds that will be attracted to the new reedbeds at Walthamstow Wetlands, will include bittern, reed bunting, reed warblers and bearded tits among others.

Bittern used to roost at Walthamstow back in the 1990s, (between 1991 and 1996 there were on average 6 bittern in the Lea Valley, which was 6% of the national population of bittern and is one of the reasons that the Lea Valley is a RAMSAR Convention protected Wetland) but bittern no longer live at Walthamstow Wetlands, preferring Fisher’s Green, further north in the Lea Valley so these new reedbeds will hopefully attract bittern back to Walthamstow.

The dredging of Reservoir 3 will also improve the water quality and the reedbeds will absorb nutrients and thus clean the water. The reedbeds will also enable the fish to lay eggs in more protected places, as the reedbeds will protect the eggs and juvenile fish from being eaten by Cormorants.

To carry out the contract for dredging the silt in Reservoir 3 and building 2.4 hectares of new reedbeds in Reservoirs 1, 2 and 3, with the 30,000 cubic metres of dredged silt, the council employed Salix River and Wetland Services Ltd.

Salix, are a bioengineering firm who are based in South Wales and the midlands and have nurseries in Norfolk where the reeds that will be planted at Walthamstow Wetlands are grown.

They previously created the wetlands at the Olympic Park lower down the Lea Valley and have recently conducted similar work at Woodberry Wetlands for London Wildlife Trust.

Salix began work at Walthamstow Wetlands in October 2015, by testing the silt and setting up their base and starting to build the silt retention system.

The work has come on apace since we filmed on 30th November and you can now see the new banks of silt, rising above the water where the new reeds will be planted. You can also see around reservoirs 1, 2 and 3, the revetments (wooden stakes) which have netting (called nicospan) attached between them, to create the silt retention systems. These underwater fences will hold the silt in to create the new reedbeds.

In this video, Behind the safety boat you can see a pontoon, that apparently was originally owned by NATO, which has special stabilizers on it, which enable the digger to reach under the water to bucket dredge the silt from the bottom of the reservoir. These stabilizers can be raised and lowered and the pontoon moves by means of the digger’s arm pulling it along.

As well as bucket dredging, there is also pump-dredging, where generators are pumping silt from Reservoir 3 through pipes into the north end of Reservoir 1 to create banks of silt for the reeds to be planted in.

We have been filming the development of Salix’s work over the past few months and in a future blog post, we will have an interview with the Contract Director of Salix, Peter Barlow mixed with footage of the reedbed construction work progressing.

By Stephen Ayers, Walthamstow Wetlands Community Engagement Volunteer. You can see more of Stephen’s videos which document the wildlife, events and changes to the site at Walthamstow Wetlands on his blog: www.walthamstowetlandsteve.wordpress.com

On Twitter you can stay up-to-date with what is happening at Walthamstow Wetlands on a daily basis via the tweets of ‘Wetlands Steve’:@Walthamsteve.